How to Know What to Avoid During Pregnancy?
I don’t want this to be a negative post about all the things you can’t do in pregnancy. I don’t like scaring you guys, believe me! Certain things can affect your baby’s development, or cause serious harm like miscarriage or disabilities. So you see, it’s very important for you to know what they are.
People have all sorts of opinions on what you should or should not be doing while pregnant.
It can be extremely confusing. I’m hoping to clear some uncertainties up by listing the absolute no-nos during pregnancy. The list is not complete as some women might need to avoid other things, depending on recommendations from their doctor or midwife, but it should be pretty comprehensive for the average pregnant woman.
So in your pregnancy (and in some cases in the months leading up to your pregnancy while you are trying to conceive), DO NOT…
Take Any Medications (If You Can Avoid Them)
This one’s a tricky one! The way we know drugs are safe during pregnancy is historical. If a drug has been used for a long time and pregnant women have historically used it without harming their baby, it’s considered safe. Drugs are never knowingly tested on pregnant women due to the potential risk to the baby. It is best to completely avoid taking any medication if you can while you are pregnant.
This is especially true in the first trimester when all of your baby’s organs are developing. If you absolutely have to take medication, do so in collaboration with your regular doctor and OB or midwife. Lots of women have health issues before they are pregnant that don’t magically go away with pregnancy.
Be wary that not all over-the-counter medication is safe during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking ANYTHING. Again, it’s best just to avoid medications in general if possible. We, in the western world, are so accustomed to taking medication for anything and everything, but pregnancy is a good time to try to wean that habit!
Change The Cat Litter or Tend to The Garden
This is probably something you’ve heard before, but why? The reason is simple. Cat feces can contain a parasite called “toxoplasma gondii.” This parasite causes a disease called toxoplasmosis which may be benign to you when you’re not pregnant, but it can have some serious effects on your growing fetus including stillbirth.
Why gardening? Well, the same parasite can be found in other animals that may have used your garden as a litter box! So get someone else to do your weeding.
Ask someone to do the tasks for you. If you absolutely HAVE TO change the cat litter, use gloves and then wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. It’s really not something you want to risk.
Drink Caffeine From Any Source
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, some over the counter medication among other things.
There are some differing schools of thought on this topic. Caffeine does not cause any birth defects, but some studies have indicated that high doses may be associated with miscarriage and infertility.
In my books, that should be enough evidence to try to avoid caffeine completely. I mean, how do you really know if the recommended dose isn’t too much for YOUR body. Every woman is different and it’s hard to know what your ideal amount is.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably the biggest coffee lover you’ll ever find. But I don’t love it enough to risk not getting pregnant or losing my baby. I know I’ll be able to drink caffeinated coffee to my heart’s content at other times in my life!
Substitutes for coffee are herbal teas and decaf coffee. I really love rooibos tea with a little honey and milk. Hey, it’s not coffee, but it’s a nice warm comforting drink!
Eat Stuff That Can Contain The Listeria Bacteria
The listeria bacteria is predominately found in undercooked, raw or unpasteurized foods. It is not harmful to non-pregnant women (might cause a bit of nausea or diarrhea) but can have profound effects on your baby if you contract this disease while pregnant.
So avoid ANYTHING that is not pasteurized, such as cheeses and other dairy products. Also, nothing that is undercooked or raw. This is why sushi is not recommended. Even if you are absolutely sure of the restaurant’s quality, it’s not a risk you should take! You can get sushi that doesn’t contain fish, and it’s pretty delish (I would know from as a vegetarian who LOVES sushi).
Try to avoid anything that can be undercooked, such as eggs, meat or fish. There are all types of yucky bacteria out there in addition to listeria that can be very harmful to you during pregnancy.
You’d think in this day and age this wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion anymore. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Lots of women still smoke during their pregnancy, and to be honest, I don’t understand why.
Yes, nicotine is extremely addictive, but it takes a few days to get that out of your system. Why would you risk the life and well-being of your child for a silly addiction? That’s what smoking is, silly!
Just think about it, you a bringing a toxin-filled cylinder to your mouth and inhaling, delivering disgusting toxins directly to you and your baby. I’m sorry if this sounds judgemental, but I just really don’t understand why that can ever be ok? Please enlighten me in the comments if you have a different opinion.
What Does Smoking Cigarettes Do to Your Unborn Child?
-Nicotine constricts the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your baby by constricting the blood flow to the placenta. Basically, your babies organs don’t function as well as a result.
-Smoking can cause birth defects. It’s a hard fact and there’s no tip-toeing around it. Do you want the best for your baby? You owe it to yourself and your baby to quit now!
-Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby’s lungs. It can make them more susceptible to lung and breathing issues down the road. Not just as an infant, but also later in life. So basically it can affect them forever.
-It increases the risk of giving birth prematurely. Those babies have way more health problems than babies born at term, so it’s no joke! Even with our advanced technology, premies are at risk for all kinds of issues, including lifelong learning disabilities and more.
-Smoking increases your risk of miscarriage and if that’s not bad enough your baby will have a higher risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Yes, I said DYING.
-Babies born to smokers are smaller than babies born to non-smokers. This can be problematic in the first days after birth, including issues with jaundice and blood sugars. Sometimes these issues mean your baby will have to be separated from you and transferred to the NICU or Special Care Nursery.
IS THIS CLEAR ENOUGH FOR YOU? QUIT NOW! Your body and baby will thank you for it. YOU CAN DO IT!
Talk to your doctor about how to quit, or google resources in your area. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a support group to help you. However you go about it, just quit smoking.
Some women find it helpful to tell themselves they can start again after the baby is born. And although that is not ideal either, if it helps you to abstain from cigarettes while pregnant, well, go with it!
Drink Alcohol or Use Street Drugs
Contrary to what you might have heard, there is no safe level of alcohol in pregnancy. If you regularly drink large amounts of alcohol while pregnant, you are risking giving birth to a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by growth deficiencies, facial malformations, central nervous system dysfunction, brain abnormalities, behaviour issues, learning disabilities and more.
So yeah, regardless of what they do in Europe, just wait 9 months before having that glass of wine!
The same goes for illegal street drugs. You really have no idea what is in them, even if you’ve been OK in the past, there is no way of knowing what kind of effect the drugs will have on your baby. I could list all the different problems associated with each drug. But the evidence is the same for all drugs. Don’t do them.
Take Part in High-Risk Sports
Your baby is pretty well protected in your uterus. He or she is floating around in a bag of water as well. But, you do not want to risk hurting your growing belly.
Any high impact trauma can lead to a placental abruption. That is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. This is extremely dangerous because it can lead to premature labour and delivery of your baby and/or stillbirth. It can also cause excessive bleeding that can be pretty dangerous for you.
So avoid things like high-risk water sports, sky-diving, etc.
Of course, continue your normal exercise routine if your doctor has OK-ed it. It’s very important to continue to stay active during your pregnancy. Just don’t take any unnecessary risks! If it seems risky, skip it.
Expose Yourself to Radiation
Any abdominal X-rays, CAT scans and diagnostic procedures that involve radioactive dyes should be avoided during your pregnancy.
Some consider dental x-rays to be safe, but personally, I would just avoid it all. Unless you absolutely have to. But most dental work can wait until after you’ve had the baby.
Expose Yourself to Extreme Heat
Try to avoid saunas, hot tubs or vigorous exercise that causes your temperature to go up. I’m from Iceland and love a nice soak in the hot tub. I wouldn’t say you have to completely avoid it, just don’t soak for too long. Listen to your body, if you’re feeling too hot, get out!
If you get a fever, try to lower it by any means possible. Tylenol, if approved by your doctor, is relatively safe and effective for lowering your fever.
Extreme heat can cause neural tube defects and miscarriage in the first trimester and later it can cause dehydration, which is not good for a growing baby.
Use Some Cleaning Products – Look At All The Labels
There are lots and lots of toxins out there and you don’t want to accidentally expose your baby to some of them.
I’d say, get your partner to do most of the cleaning, or if that’s not a feasible option for you, read all the labels very closely. Use gloves while cleaning and wash your hands once you’re done.
Chlorine and ammonia-based substances are the worst, so try to find the more natural products out there.
That’s it! The top ten things you should avoid during your pregnancy. Now go out there and enjoy your pregnancy, worry free!